WASHINGTON – The once-rapturous fans of the Washington Capitals were as bitter and jaded as a lifelong Maple Leafs follower Thursday, angry about their team’s historic collapse against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I am disgusted and disappointed,” said Paul Parfomak, 43, an energy policy specialist at the Library of Congress who is such a diehard Caps fan that he often bundled up his two young sons to watch the team practise in nearby Virginia.
“It was hard to watch that pathetic power play and not feel disgusted.”
In a city better known for its power brokers than its power plays, the regular-season triumphs of the mighty Washington Capitals had sparked dreams of Stanley Cup glory and a feverish love affair with Canada’s biggest sport.
The NHL’s best regular-season team sold out every game this year. Capitals jerseys were a common sight not just in the city itself, but in the sprawling D.C. suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.
But on Thursday, a seething lover’s spat was in full throttle after the squad became the first No. 1 team to blow a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs to a No. 8 seed.
“Collapse With a Capital C,” read the headline in the Washington Post. Columnist Tracee Hamilton also levelled the blame at team captain Alex Ovechkin, the big Russian who’s considered by some to be the best player in the game.
“Was this series a referendum on Ovechkin and his place in the hockey galaxy? The answer is probably yes,” Hamilton wrote. “When you are so clearly the face of the franchise, and the franchise so clearly fails, what does that say about you?”
Others shared in the Ovechkin bashing.
“Ovechkin must be the Russian word for over-rated,” wrote one reader on ESPN.com.
Fans flooding the NHL’s Capitals web page also called for the firing of Bruce Boudreau, whom they said had been embarrassingly out-coached by Habs helmsman Jacques Martin. But they saved their choicest words for the superstar Russian whose jersey number has earned him the sobriquet “The Great 8.”
“It took him six games and 2